Eastern Senior League South (Step 6)
Venue: Park Lane, Canvey
2021-22 Season: Match 31
Wednesday 13 October 2021 – 7.45pm KO
Benfleet: Sky Blue Shirts, Navy Blue Shorts, Sky Blue Socks
Burnham R: Yellow Shirts, Yellow Shorts, Yellow Socks
Burnham hit late leveller to claim decent point at Park Lane
Benfleet 2 – 2 Burnham Ramblers
Match Report & Photos by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
This week’s midweek match was a rare excursion to Park Lane to see two sides hoping to be in the running for promotion from Eastern Senior League South come April in Benfleet and visitors Burnham Ramblers. Benfleet manager Rob Polkinghorn rotated his squad for this game and fielded a defensive four of Billy Carter, Martyn Lacey, Sonny Hartman and Cameron Harris, son of forward Millwall legend Neil. Taylor Lawrence and skipper Aaron Russell were the players promoted to attack, with support from the flanks by Luc Harpon and Ben Foord. Options from their bench included former Burnham defender Ryan Willsmer, recent recruit David Salako and goal-scoring forward Billy Bonham-Dare. Luke Goodson’s side incuded Adam French in goal, a central defensive pairing of Matthew Stevens-Brown and Ben Wood, with captain Charlie Brewer and Eddie Appleton in midfield and a forward line of Adebolu Adeyemi, Samir Ali and Harry Shawyer.
Both sides knew the importance of the points here I believe and as you sometimes see in these type of matches, it was a tepid start in terms of chances at either end. Burnham forward Samir Ali had fired over in the opening minutes but we had an early stoppage after a rash tackle by the onrushing Liam Barry saw him clatter into home stopper Florent Gislette, which left the custodian in considerable pain and needing treatment. Admirably though, Gislette continued and Barry was given a early booking. Both sides were showing the way they play, with good passing, movement and possession but they were also both somewhat lacking that final ball that you need to bypass defences. The hosts were unfortunate on 21 minutes as winger Luc Harpon’s teasing cross evaded both the visiting backline and stopper Adam French but forward Ben Foord was agonizingly out of reach of the ball at the far post.
Benfleet were showing glimpses of finding their form, but on the half-hour, they conceded a spot-kick, with tricky Burnham forward Samir Ali felled in the eighteen-yard area. Ali stepped up himself and blasted a firm strike into left-side corner to give Ramblers the lead. Benfleet responded with some vigour, as attacking midfielder Aaron Russell outran the onrushing French but the Burnham custodian did well to recover his position to deny Foord with his follow-up strike. Moments later, a good header from a set-piece by Cameron Harris was clawed away well by French. By contrast, the visitors were unable to unsettle Gislette after the early incident but a Eddie Appleton free-kick did force the Benfleet stopper into gathering the ball minutes before the interval.
Half-Tme: Benfleet 0 – 1 Burnham Ramblers
So it was the Ramblers who held a narrow lead going into the second period. Benfleet did find their rhythm around the hour mark but again were thwarted by Burnham ‘keeper French. Russell had a good chance from close range but the custodian denied him and Foord’s strike on the rebound and perhaps you would start to think it wasn’t going to be the hosts’ night. Not a bit of it – they levelled on 64 minutes as French made another good parry from an initial effort but the bounce rather caught the unfortunate stopper unawares which allowed Foord to head in the rebound. It was as much as ‘Fleet deserved after spurning several decent half-chances prior to that point.
Foord was the chief threat really to a stern Burnham defence who did clear the ball from danger fairly well throughout, even if Benfleet were still stuttering in their quest to find that clinical final pass. As we entered the last fifteen minutes of the match, the tempo ramped up another notch or two. Full-back Billy Carter did well to grab a yard of space in the penalty area to strike an effort on goal which French did well to sprawl over to deny him as the hosts were really the stronger side by this point. Benfleet winger Luc Harpon had made some good runs at times in this match again and another threatening centre from the left side of pemalty area found substitute Billy Bonham-Dare who slotted home past French from close range, barely a minute after coming on to give the hosts the advantage.
The drama didn’t end there though. Benfleet’s defence rather switched off less than two minutes later and on the counter-attack, a move involving forward Adebolu Adeyemi and replacement Tom Howard found Harry Shawyer in space and with only Gislette to beat, he powered in a low drive into the corner of the net to claw back a useful point. Benfleet had Foord sin-binned in added time for reacting to the referee’s decisions but it was too late to really undermine the home side. You could argue Burnham were fortunate to grab a draw given they had few real chances in the second half but then you also have to factor in that Benfleet really had to see the last five minutes of the match out which they were unable to do.
In fairness though, it is hard to be too critical as it again shows how unpredictable this division is and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a very tightly-packed top eight sides once again as the season progresses.
Full-Time: Benfleet 2 – 2 Burnham Ramblers
In terms of stand-out performances, we’ll start with Benfleet. Winger Luc Harpon had another good game and his presence on the flank unsettled the visiting defence and his assist for the second goal highlighted his value to the side, even when he didn’t get too much of the ball here. Full-back Billy Carter put in another strong, energetic performance, showing good awareness and passing. Defender Sonny Hartman was pushing his side to create forward moves as the ball-playing central defender and forward Ben Foord’s presence in attack meant the Burnham defence had to concentrate and have a solid game. For Burnham, goalkeeper Adam French pulled off several good saves and kept his side in the match, while forward Samir Ali again had a good game, being the most promising outlet for Luke Goodson’s side here. Harry Shawyer also made some good runs and took his goal well, plus centre-back Matthew Stevens-Brown had a good match, making several interceptions to stifle the hosts’ forward line.
All told, it was a good evening’s action. Thanks to the hosts for their kind welcome & also a thank you to my friends Pete Dudley, DW and Rob Parker – it is always nice to be surrounded by good company at matches.
Best wishes to both teams for the rest of the campaign.
Benfleet | Manager: Robert Polkinghorn | Assistant: Rob Rook
Starting XI (Subs): 1 Florent Gislette (GK), 2 Billy Carter, 3 Martyn Lacey (16 Joe Hunter 61′) 5 Cameron Harris, 6 Sonny Hartman, 4 Stephen Ellery (17 Billy Bonham-Dare 82′), 10 Lee Scott (15 David Salako 71′), 8 Taylor Lawrence, 9 Aaron Russell (Capt), 7 Luc Harpon, 11 Ben Foord
Goal-scorers: Ben Foord [64′] Billy Bonham-Dare [83′]
Booked: Hartman | Sin-Bin: Ben Foord [90’+1] | Subs Not Used: Willsmer, Shave
Burnham Ramblers | Manager: Luke Goodson | Assistant: Ross Mernick
Starting XI (Subs): 1 Adam French (GK), 7 Joe Howard (2 Ben Jackman 46′), 11 Liam Barry (16 Shemarie Perkins-Palmer 82′), 4 Matthew Stevens-Brown, 5 Ben Wood, 6 Calum Smith, 8 Eddie Appleton, 17 Charles Brewer (Capt) (15 Tom Howard 74′), 12 Harry Shawyer, 9 Adebolu Adeyemi, 10 Samir Ali
Goal-scorers: Samir Ali [pen 30′], Harry Shawyer [85′]
Booked: Barry | Subs Not Used: Da Costa, Walker
Referee: Tommy Breen
Assistants: Martin Green & Jamie Wood